Leftwing Idiot and I visited a special needs school recently and while we were there we were introduced to the school dog. He was very friendly and quiet and I know that if I’d been a pupil there I’d have loved him.

My old school had a hamster – Sylvia. I loved Sylvia and was fascinated by her. But, as I told Leftwing Idiot after our visit, I was banned from picking her up by my teachers.

They explained to me very gently that my movements were not controlled enough for me to hold her safely, and that although they knew I was trying to be gentle with her it would be better if I did different things to help look after her. My mum was a bit more direct, ‘You hold her so tightly she wees herself.’

Despite my hamster-holding ban I still enjoyed Sylvia’s company and was even allowed to look after her during one half term. My mum did the handling, and I excitedly ran round after Sylvia as she raced round our flat in her ball. This turned out to be a great way for me to play with her without provoking any fear-induced urination.

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